Physicians throughout Florida have commented negatively on this proposed legislation which would require their offices to post pricing in their offices. Many are saying that the law would not only be intrusive but also pointless for patients. The need for pricing transparency in healthcare is evident however, and this could be a step in the right direction for patients, but it is not the cure-all answer. Our in-house legal council, Jeff Greenberg, comments on the proposed legislation:
Proposed legislation in Florida may require doctors and other providers to post signs in their waiting rooms showing the prices to be charged a person paying with his or her own funds, i.e., without insurance. Charges for those with insurance depend on the applicable policy and would not have to be posted. However, with the immense amount of uninsured Americans rising steadily and the prevalence of patients with the popular 80-20 plans, these cash-pay pricing structures will prove to be a necessity for much of the patient population.
This new legislation would require urgent care centers, surgery centers and imaging centers to show prices for their most common procedures. Additionally, two separate bills on the issue would require price sheets to be given to every patient. Voluntary disclosures have not worked, but most industry lobbyists do not appear to think these bills will help patients either, and may just end up adding costs to medical providers for the signs.
It seems that while conceptually the bills are aimed at helping patients make their decisions, it is still unclear whether or not it will really change much for them, unless they call in advance for the pricing. If the patient arrives at the office and sees the pricing, would they be willing to walk away because of the prices without knowing what other comparative facilities might charge for the same service? The pricing transparency is much needed, however the efforts will not be beneficial to patients without the ability to compare. Also, the prices listed may still not actually be ones that patients would ultimately pay, as they could just be part of a standard “fee schedule” which may not be reflective of an actual cash-pay price that would be acceptable to a provider. Cash-pay patients are able to negotiate better rates for services though through online scheduling services like Save On Medical or by direct communication with the provider.
Whether the legislation will become law is unknown at this time, but whether it does or not, the level of impact it will have will be null without further efforts of patients and providers alike.
Greenberg Hirshfeld PL
Atlantic Health Management Solutions, LLC